I think 'Power Rangers' was the first time I saw people get totally obsessed with something that I didn't quite understand for myself. The original air date was August 28, 1993, making me just barely 11 years old. When it aired, I can admit, I enjoyed it for whatever it was. It was colourful, action packed, featured every day people in hero roles, and it was kinda weird all at once. I never got the same obsession that others did with it though. I gave it the first few episodes of the first season, got bored, and continued watching 'Animaniacs' instead (which aired that September).
But while I was watching my cartoons, this seemingly even more cartoonish live action show was really taking off. It became a phenomenon of sorts, and yeah, I still caught it here and there if I was at a friends house and that's what they were watching. I still never really understood the obsession, but it wasn't like I wasn't into some pretty weird cartoons as a kid either. Look at 'Ninja Turtles', as a perfect example. If you pretend that it never existed, and think of the whole idea, it's really messed up. Look at 'Super Mario Bros' as one of my biggest gaming obsessions... I mean, just... LOOK at it!
All this lead me to the conclusion that I was finally growing out of certain things. A show like 'Animaniacs' could still be greatly entertaining to me because it still delved into adult humor as well as being pretty kid friendly. It was like the little upgrade we got after the far more child-friendly 'Tiny Toons'. But getting back to the point, 'Power Rangers' was pretty much responsible for giving me that feeling of childhood going away. So, maybe it wasn't for me, but it ended up ultimately getting respected by me for doing so well. Eventually, I'd grow up and see that they taught some valuable lessons along the way. Lessons such as how important team work can be, and to stand up to your bullies... which I hope helped more than it hindered... but anyway, I eventually understood the appeal it had to people.
SO, here I am, present day, and I see a trailer for a 'Power Rangers' reboot. And honestly? I couldn't help but find myself curious about it more than I would have just brushed it aside when I was younger. Maybe, for me, this was gonna fit like the new 'Star Trek' or the new 'James Bond' movies where I respected the old material, but maybe the new stuff could pull me into it better. And in some ways, it succeeded, but in a lot of way, it sadly failed as well... but perhaps for stranger reasons than you might think. So, now that I've written so much set up, I'm gonna start the ACTUAL review (sorry, this has taken me a lot of thought, and I aim to make it one of my more detailed reviews). If you don't feel like reading it all, though, just scroll down to the rating I gave it and call it a day. But I do feel like I have some important stuff to say that doesn't fully rest on this movie alone. So, let's start this off, shall we?
The way the story originally aired back in '93 was that this horribly dubbed witch wizardy space person named Rita, along with her henchmen, are found on the moon by two astronauts. Because of this, some head in a tube named Zordon tells his robot sidekick named Alpha 5 that Rita has escaped and that they need the help of "teenagers with attitudes" (that line really makes me cringe, by the way). Alpha... somehow beams them into this headquarters, so to speak, and Zordon tells them that it's up to them to save the world because Rita is being a bitch and throwing monsters down to Earth trying to conquer it. Most of the episodes are relatively the same formula consisting of "Rita's at it again", "We need to help!", "It's morphin time!" and then they all ride big, awesome, mechanical dinosaurs (well, three dinosaurs and two big-ass mammals) and save the day until the following week when they did it all over again. While the scenes involving the actors were American, the actual Power Ranger fights were stock footage from a Japanese show called 'Super Sentai', and when you watch it all together now, it's hard to ell which part of it is cheesier. Along the way lessons are learned, fears overcome, and toys eventually sold like crazy.
The movie, on the other hand, shows us what happened between Rita and Zordon in the beginning, and allows us to see actual training for the big fight instead of them just kinda figuring it all out on their own, as the show would have you believe. I mean, okay, they were in Jason's high school karate class, and Zordon explains to them how to morph, but... damn, were they otherwise self-sufficient! So, I really and truly enjoy that part of it. One may call it too much exposition, but I say it's about time. If the original 'Power Rangers' show was a combination of Japanese stock footage and 'Saved by the Bell', this movie is more like... if the 'Breakfast Club' were the real Power Rangers.
I'm not making that up, either. They pretty much all have their resemblances to the Breakfast Club. In short, Jason's the "athlete", Billy is the "brain", Kimberly is the "princess", Trini is the "basketcase" and Zack is the "criminal". In fact, I'm not 100% on it, but I feel like they even quoted 'The Breakfast Club' in this from time to time. But that MIGHT be a good thing, overall. This generation could use a new Breakfast Club that's a bit updated, and this totally works because it doesn't mean remaking a classic, but all the good qualities are still there.
This movie gave us some good character development between everyone, each struggling with their own inner problem. This leads them to get to know and train with one another against simulations, but they can't actually morph unless they become a fully functional team and work together completely. This leads to them trying time and time again to morph but failing, and not necessarily knowing which one of them is holding something back. They even make some of the problems they have more adult, which leads me to a segway into negativity territory.
The more adult adaptation of this works very well with modern society. For example, I won't spoil who, but one of them actually stuggles with confusion on sexuality. It's something that is good to address in something like this where kids will be watching as well, letting them know that it's nothing to be ashamed of, and your friends can help if you need someone to talk to. But I daresay, it does go over the line a few times, unnecessarily. Things such as the opening scene involving Jason and his friend trying to smuggle a cow into the gym locker room and... having a back and forth about milking him... yeah... and this wasn't something that could be mistaken for something else, it's a very blatant joke about giving a handjob to a male cow. The guy even says he had to use two hands! See, now, I have a MAJOR problem with this kind of thing.
This is right up there with Michael Bay making Michaelangelo a straight up pervert. It's just fully unnecessary. And I admit that raunchy humor can be pretty funny at times, but there's a place for them; in raunchy comedies. This? This is 'Power Rangers'! It leads me to believe that they made it more with our generation of late-20-to-early-30-somethings in mind, but that STILL doesn't mean the raunchy humor needs to be there. It doesn't add anything, and makes it seem like they're not respecting the source material at all. 'Power Rangers' was a show meant for kids at the time, and those kids grew up with it, much like I did with 'Ninja Turtles'. I can't help but feel it could be something parents may wanna bring their kids to, in order to sort of show what they grew up with, and maybe the kids will enjoy it just the same. But a lot of the dialogue and language to this is quite a bit more adult than it ought to be, considering it's 'Power Rangers'; a show that was always meant for kids more than adults.
With all the language aside, though, it's really not too bad. They changed the characters up a bit, yeah, but I feel like I cared about these particular characters more in the 2 hours this movie took than I ever did with any members of that original team. I did, however, find that getting to know a lot about these characters could drag quite a bit. They don't really even become Rangers until about the last half hour of the movie, which, given the circumstances I suppose is understandable, but I DID find myself growing slightly impatient with it at times. However, when they finally DO become the Power Rangers, they do a great job with the fan service aspect of things. I couldn't help but even get some goosebumps when they finally went into battle and the 'Power Rangers' theme comes on. Even if I didn't like the show much, that theme, I have to admit, is pretty awesome. It just gets you all pumped up for action.
Other positives, as one may imagine, include the visuals. Even without the big battle stuff going on, there ends up being some pretty cool and trippy scenes. There's also good delving into these guys actually discovering and exploring their newfound powers, much like they did in 'Chronicle', which is something I can always appreciate, especially since in the old show they just kinda seemed to know what to do. But as far as other negatives? Other than my personal opinion of it dragging a little, and the unnecessary jokes and language, there isn't much to pick on. 'Power Rangers' was always pretty cheesy to me, so I expected nothing less, but actually got a bit more. The film's downfall truly is the adult humor, again, Power Rangers never needed raunchiness to succeed.
So, in closing, if you were a fan of the show and want to see a fresh, new take on things, you might check this out. It definitely has some fun moments, and parts of it are pretty reminiscent of the old show. If you do, however, plan to bring your kids to see this and introduce a whole new generation to such a worldwide phenomenon... keep in mind there's a joke about jerking off a cow, language, and some suggestive stuff here and there. Otherwise, Go Go to the movies and check it out for yourself because if nothing else, you can see an updated version of 'The Breakfast Club'!